By Gregor Brown in Milan
Enrico Gasparotto, winner of the opening stage of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, was present at the unveiling of the 2008 race parcours Saturday night in Milano, and was pleased to see another team time trial opening the race. Though he took the day and maglia rosa almost by chance this year in Sardegna, and admits a chance of repeating will be mostly up to his new team, Barloworld.
"It depends a lot on the team, and it is not entirely up to me," he said to Cyclingnews after the presentation. "In order to do a good team time trial we will need all of Barloworld working together, and after, we will see."
Rather than thinking of the opening 28.5 kilometres, Gasparotto had his mind on that final week through the high mountains. At the suggestion that the parcours is easier than last year, he said, "You're crazy! It is a Giro that is so much more difficult than last year, the last week will be truly hard. Before then [the final week – ed.] we will have to see how we are showing. The last week is hard, hard, hard."
As a Professional Continental team Barloworld does not have a guaranteed start in the Italian three-week tour, but with last year's good results it is relying on an invitation. "I think it does," responded 'Gaspa' when asked if the team will have a chance at an invite. "It had a great Tour de France, and also other races that are organized here in Italy by La Gazzetta [RCS Sport – ed.]. I think we really have a good chance to race the Giro."
The team will meet in Tuscany this January to prepare for the 2008 season, while Gasparotto is excited to begin the season with a new jersey on his back. "We have not yet met for a training camp; we will only have one in January, in Toscana. We will have a brief visit with the team doctors on December 11."
The new team "will be a big stimulus for me because now I have more responsibility on my back. The thing I like is that I will have more liberty in the courses that suit me, like stages in the Giro and Tirreno-Adriatico, and the one-day races of Sanremo, Flanders... It is a huge stimulus, and I can't wait to start the season with this recharge."
For more on Gasparotto read Gaspa aces spring exams.